Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Mighty Morphin Power Ranger Episode 46: To Flea Or Not to Flee

Dog Saves Failing Business By Eating Repulsive Food
Harmless Idiots Humiliated By Paragons of Justice








Hello my friends. Today we need to discuss a very serious topic that I'm sure none of us are too happy to accept. I'm afraid that Ernie's Youth Center is tragically going out of business.

Wait did I say tragically? The word I was looking for was "understandably."

How is it that it took Ernie this goddamn long to run into financial troubles? He gives the Ranger Teens all their meals for free, and anything they don't eat gets dumped onto Bulk and Skull. Sure Ernie saves money by turning his customers into indentured servants any time some rinky dink party is getting held in his piss awful sweat shop, but the second the IRS caught wind of that, Ernie was up to his throat in lawsuits.

So the Ranger Teens are once again helping out big old sadsack Ernie who's really down in the dumps about his impending poverty. Zack holds up a pint sized can asking for donations like he's a goddamned panhandler, while Kim pecks away at a calculator and pretends to be doing business math. So what, Ernie's just dumping all his tax forms in front of these high schoolers and asking them to get him out of the red? Jesus Christ man, no wonder you're going bankrupt. You're letting a dweeb dressed in comical overalls do your auditing for you.

Trini comes in to do what she does best, ask another character a question and immediately stop speaking for the rest of the scene. She asks Billy, situated at the world's smallest computer, how Ernie's finances are looking. Billy gives a "complicated" explanation that Ernie's "operating expenses exceeded his revenues." Kimberly looks at Trini COMPLETELY dumbfounded, and just can't seem to figure out what kind of riddle Billy's telling with his words. Trini puts it into layman's terms for her, "Ernie's buttfucking broke."

Kimberly looks over at Ernie and says she's never seen him look so bummed out before. Allow me to show you the look he gives that tells the audience this is a man at the end of his rope.

Are you there God? It's me Ernie

While Ernie mulls over wrapping his lips around a carburetor, Jason walks in with an adorable scruffy little dog. The dog followed Jason home after school, having followed the closest thing this town has to an alpha dog. Jason tells his friends that the dog "looked lost", so he brought it with him. Hear that kids at home? If you see a dog just take it with you. Tell yourself it looks lost.

We cut from Jason holding the dog to a poster inside Angel Grove High asking if anyone has seen a "Lost Doggy." Sorry about your crippled finances Ernie, today you're playing second fiddle to a dog. 
Bulk and Skull are the first to see this poster and we get a nice bland bit with Skull's illiteracy. I'll spare you the details and say Skull now knowing how to spell a word for three minutes did not produce comedy gold. Bulk uses his illustrious ability to read to uncover that whoever finds this scruffy adorable dog will be rewarded handsomely. Boy will they be disappointed when they find out the reward's just money, and not permission to eat the dog.

Rita's got her eyes on this pooch as well. She demands Finster produce her Fighting Flea monster. This creature's motive is to chomp on Jason and give him a severe itch all over his body, and make him unable to fight. Yeah, that's the plot today. Sorry. Goldar informs his queen the monster doesn't need to worry about Jason's groin, as a recent Chlamydia outbreak has done half of Flea's job for it. Finster places a monster mold into his Monstermatic and out pops this dumbass.

Granted I'm not sure how you can make a flea look threatening.

Ernie, clearly not grasping exactly why he's going out of business, gives the lost pup a bowl of chili. You want to know how to ruin a dog's stomach? Put community center chili into its diet. That thing's gonna leave piles of toxic waste on your carpet. Jason sees that the pup is whining a little bit, and presupposes that it needs to go to the bathroom. Maybe you just fed it people food that even the dog knows it shouldn't be eating.

Jason takes the pooch out to the park, and Kim tails along with him. She says it's on her way home, but I think she just wanted to hang with a real man after spending last week with Billy. Meanwhile, Bulk and Skull have realized that the dog they're looking for is hanging out with their best friends the Ranger Teens. The dipshit duo vow to receive that reward no matter what those geeks do. Yeah maybe they'll fall into a cake and you can steal the dog from them. That's what they do right?

Rita uses her magic to zap the lost dog with her wand which plants the Fighting Flea on the pooch. Immediately I take issue with this. What kind of flea monster worth his salt can't shrink of his own accord? What a total schmuck. So his only power is that he can bite people and make them itchy? This guy better start kicking some ass soon Rita, or your giant orange flea is going to start looking pretty silly.

Jason pets the dog while asking why he looks so miserable, ignoring the chili diarrhea that was the harbinger of this walk in the park. Suddenly Jason's bit on the arm while we see some really shitty looking red sparkles travel up his arm. They look like something you'd get in a demo copy of Adobe After Effects '97. It ends up looking more like the dog gave Jason chicken pox on his arm.

While Jason starts itching his arm, Bulk and Skull throw the dog a squeaky toy on a rope to reel it in like it's a fish. The dog chases after the toy because it's sick of Jason and Kimberly feeding it like it's a person, and instead heads over to the two idiots chuckling like Deliverance hillbillies.

Now that Jason's itchy and scratchy, he's left wondering "Where's Poochie?" Apparently not noticing the two mongoloids hiding in the bushes grunting about a little fleabag. Which could either be Bulk and Skull talking about a dog, or Bulk and Skull describing their testicles.

While Jason and Kimberly look for the dog, Goldar sends down a squad of Putties to finish off the Red Ranger. Maybe you should have waited until he was alone and unable to stop itching instead of sending Putties to fight him when he was with Kimberly. She can also fight Putties too Goldar, just like every one of the Power Rangers can. Why is it that you get paid twice as much as Baboo does?

The Putties attack Kim and Jason, and use their typical mediocre fighting skills to embarrass themselves. Suddenly, one of the Putties appears to become coated in the same itch that Jason has, and starts convulsing on the ground. Hey Goldar, maybe before you send in the Putties you can check with Finster and see if they'll work with the monster he just made.

Finster refused to give his Putties vaccines, BECAUSE IT'S HIS RIGHT AS A PARENT GODDAMNIT

Jason tells Kim to lead the Putties near him, where he uses his itch like he's a human Smallpox blanket to infect all the Putties. This Putty fight is actually really short and used almost solely to establish to the characters that Jason's itch isn't natural and is clearly contagious. That's...pretty cool honestly. Goldar gave his typical bullshit of "This will kill them" that nobody is going to believe; but the show was smart enough to use the Putties to advance the plot. I'm actually rather impressed.

In the Command Center, Alpha uses a dime store prop to scan Jason's arm and concludes that he has a "heavy duty rash." Because this show is incompetent, we only see Kim and Jason at first and you assume those two are the only ones in the Command Center. Then we abruptly cut to a shot of Trini, Zack, and Billy and realize the whole team's there now. Leaving Ernie to soak in his encroaching destitution.

Zordon informs his freedom fighters that Rita has unleashed her Fighting Flea monster, and maybe they shouldn't pick up stray dogs when an evil witch is constantly hounding them. Zordon tells Alpha to coat Jason's arm in some spray to make that unbearable itch slightly more bearable; although he warns Jason that if he comes into contact with Rita's monster then the itch will flare up again. Which isn't a warning for Jason as much as it is a promise to the audience.

Billy takes the antidote from Alpha and tells the android that maybe HE can make it better. Now is the point in the show where Billy is so scientifically brilliant that he's able to create things more efficient than the intergalactic space head and his cyborg slave. It's been pretty mundane before, but Billy's intellect is now reaching critical mass.

Jason tells his friends he has to go back to the park and find that dog, or else somebody else might pet it and get infected by the rash. Or they'll leave it alone without stealing it you weirdo.  The Ranger Teens tell him that's a ridiculous idea because he's putting himself in danger when there's four perfectly competent Rangers standing in front of him. Oh wait Tommy isn't here anymore, guess it's just three.

Kim heads to the park with Jason, while Zack and Trini head back to the Juice Bar to see if the dog went to go drink more of Ernie's gutter chili. Since Zordon was too lazy to tell the Ranger Teens that those two mentally incompetent bullies have their dog, they go on a wild goose chase to find the pup. Meanwhile, Bulk's found a phone booth in the park to call the dog's owner. While Bulk makes the call, Fighting Flea decides this would be an opportune time to stretch its legs.

Skull encounters the ghost of pubic lice past.

Skull finally gets to have an amusing bit in this episode and tells Bulk to stop looking at that paper and look at the giant monster in front of them. It doesn't work great reading it, but Skull starts pointing one of the dog's paws at the Fighting Flea monster. If it's wrong to laugh at that then crucify me. Bulk notices the monster who asks the two if they want a bite to eat. Bulk ignores the jab at his weight as the bullies haul ass away from the phone booth after dropping the dog. A far better fate than Bulk inevitably petting it so hard its neck was broken. 

While two idiots run away from a big high pitched idiot talking about biting people, Billy tries to figure out how to use his magic science to stop the jock's itch. Billy is apparently having trouble inventing a cure for magical flea bites, but that's not what's important about this scene. What is important is the fact that whoever dressed up this set put a full sized model skeleton in the background of Billy's lab.

R.I.P. Bones

Jason and Kim go to some shitty old junkyard to find the dog which they've forgotten to name. Which might make it a little difficult to find it when you're calling out "C'mere doggy!" While they're unable to find the dog, the Fighting Flea appears to greet them instead. The two teens morph, but before the fight can even begin Jason starts convulsing. Might have something to do with that monster he was told not to fight but what do I know?

Kimberly tries to attack the Fighting Flea herself while Jason jumps around and bitches about being so itchy. The monster effortlessly swats her aside and blasts her with missiles from his proboscis. Sorry Kim, this episode doesn't focus on you. You're not allowed to beat a monster.

Zordon tells Billy he needs to hurry up with that magic spray unless he wants his team to have their corpses buried in the junkyard. Billy speeds up the production of the antidote; because while he wouldn't mind Jason getting killed, Kimberly took him on a date last weekend so they're destined to be married.

In the meantime, Zack and Trini have found Dog at the Youth Center. The pup found its way back to Ernie because it couldn't get enough of his chili. Must be all the dog food he uses to cook it.  Ernie says to the two he wishes he had more loyal customers like that dog, which is the dumbest line I've ever heard. That dog's not paying you, and you're telling that to two teenagers who essentially live at your dive bar. Why are you taking your passive aggressive garbage out on the only people dumb enough to be your slaves?

Zordon contacts Trini and Zack and tells them to go slap the shit out of that flea before it makes Jason jump around more. They answer the call to action and morph to the scene. Immediately afterwards, Billy grabs the completed antidote and morphs to join his friends.

Yellow, Blue, and Black blast the Flea before it descends on Pink and Red. While Billy uses his spray on Jason, Trini and Zack take on the Fighting Flea and start whaling on him. Not being able to instantly beat the Black and Yellow Ranger in an episode that doesn't focus on them instantly makes this monster the lamest of all time. Congrats.

Billy sprays his magical science goo all over Jason and removes the painful itch from him. The Fighting Flea knocks Zack and Trini aside and starts yelling at them for cheating. Here's an idea Flea, maybe come to a fight with more than one trick in your arsenal. You shot some needles out of your nose and made people itchy. Is that all you got? Step up your fucking game man.

The Flea summons a squadron of Putties to help make him look more impressive, but they get decimated by the Power Rangers. Jason even whips out his Power Sword to cut them down. Putties don't warrant using weapons on, they're total jobbers. Jason must have needed to get some aggression out after all that itching business.

Fighting Flea blasts the Rangers with energy from his antenna, but Jason leaps out of the explosion and slashes into him with the Power Sword. The monster is sent reeling, and Rita whips out her wand to make the flea enormous. Technically this flea was already gigantic, so now he's just overcompensating.

The Rangers bring out the Megazord to combat the Flea, and whoever shot the footage of this fight did something interesting by shooting the start of the Zord fight from a lower angle. This actually looks pretty cool, even if the two giants move slow as shit.

Fighting Flea GIF
Now it looks 3 percent less fake!

Unfortunately, we don't see more of this style of filming and it's back to two dudes in suits beating each other up on a soundstage with fake shrubs lining it. Fighting Flea charges the Megazord but gets punched in his big dumb face instead. Since all the monster can do is fire dinky ass lasers from his antenna, it tries blasting the Megazord with them. Nothing happens because this monster sucks, and the Rangers summon the Power Sword.

Fighting Flea realizes that he isn't going to survive this fight, so he brings out his Hail Mary play. He asks if maybe he and the Rangers could talk about this instead of murdering him. The Power Rangers respond to this by killing him with the Power Sword. It's the funniest scene in the whole episode because it sends the best message to kids you could ever hope for. "If someone asks you to talk over whatever issue you're having, fucking kill them with your space sword. Take no prisoners."

Now that her jackass flea is dead, Rita angrily informs Squatt and Baboo that they've fouled up another one of her brilliant plans and she's done with them professionally. I didn't cut out any interaction between her and those morons in this episode, and Squatt and Baboo even react with confusion when she tells them how worthless they've been. This is supposed to be a joke that she's blaming them for her own plan's failure and isn't that hilarious? Personally I'm going to take it more as a confirmation of my theory that Rita's space Alzheimer's is getting worse by the day.

Back in the Youth Center, Ernie lets the gas from his ovens seep into the air as he prepares to flick a lighter and turn his Juice Bar into a sinkhole before the feds shut it down. The Ranger Teens spend their final moments with Ernie petting the only living creature who can stand to stomach his disgusting Mr. and Mrs. Tennerman chili.

Just before Ernie murders all of his patrons, a woman walks into the Juice Bar and reacts with glee that she's found her dog Pierre. Apparently this woman's supposed to be rich, but since this show is so cheap the only way you can tell that is because she gave her dog a French name and she wears high heels.

The woman asks who was so kind as to kidnap her dog and feed it dishwater while it was lost, and the Ranger Teens inform her that Ernie is to thank for such kindness. The woman gives Ernie a check which he assures the audience is for a "lot of money." Jason, Trini, and Zack get a look at the check and think that if that amount's a lot, they aren't getting very much to do this show at all. Oh well, they'll probably get over it.

The woman takes her Dog Ex Machina and tells them she has to go now, as her planet needs her. Ernie is so excited to be out of his crippling financial burden that he offers the Ranger Teens some sodas and pizzas, on the house. Good to see this plotline has only been temporarily stalled and will inevitably happen again due to Ernie's terrible business practices.

Suddenly, Bulk and Skull barge into the Youth Center itching themselves furiously. The Ranger Teens take notice of the bullies predicament and Billy asks if he should give them the antidote. Jason says not even those two deserve to be that miserable.

This moment struck me by surprise in a good way. Obviously the Ranger Teens don't get along well with Bulk and Skull, but they're willing to help them out when it's clearly something as unbearable as the Fighting Flea's itch. Even though the monster never bit them and it's also dead, so none of this really makes any sense.

The Ranger Teens address the understandably irritated Bulk and Skull and ask if they want a surprise. As soon as Billy says he can help them stop itching, they stop being dicks and ask if he can really help them. Billy agrees to help them and busts out a pair of dog collars that get rid of the itching for them. He then tells the bullies they have to wear those collars for another week, much to their chagrin.

Remember all that spray he had and used on Jason? The stuff that let him retain his dignity? Yeah well Billy also whipped up some humiliating dog collars just in case someone else was bitten by the monster and he wanted to completely destroy their self esteem. All that stuff about the Ranger Teens being nice people? Nevermind that, what a bunch of creeps.


Your Weekly 90's Nostalgia: Dog Kidnapping


Personal Thoughts



I feel sort of bad about this episode, because it's one that I remembered enjoying when I initially watched it, but on this rewatch I didn't feel very great about it. It's not a bad episode or anything, just kind of mediocre. It's a Zyu2 episode so it has that going for it, but it's got little to hook me in. I wouldn't say don't watch it, since it's a fine episode, but there are better episodes to check out. Also ones that don't end in the Ranger Teens being needlessly cruel.

There's something I want to compliment the script on, which is setting up Kimberly and Jason hanging out together so that it makes sense later in the episode that the Pink Ranger and Red Ranger are the ones who meet up with the Fighting Flea. It's not difficult to make that happen, but the show sets it up as soon as Jason walks in with that dog. Kim is enamored with the little guy more than any of the other Rangers so her hanging with Jason makes total sense. It feels earned that they take on the Flea by themselves while the other three are busy.

Another compliment I want to give is to the Japanese crew who did something a little extra with Zyu2. You'll notice the Blue Ranger whips out a magical science spray in the Zyu2 footage, and that's because the people filming this new stuff were presumably informed ahead of time what the characters in Power Rangers acted like. They took the incentive to give Blue Ranger a whole bunch of gadgets, so it was believable that the Blue Ranger is the smart guy. I really enjoy that tiny bit of characterization that showed the people filming Zyu2 stuff put some thought into what they were doing.

Now something that has annoyed me for way too long. There's a total nothing of a scene that happens before the Megazord fight that I didn't address earlier or I would have gone on a big dumb tangent. The Megazord is in Tank Mode briefly and shoots at Fighting Flea. Since the show didn't have any shots of giant Fighting Flea getting hit by an attack, they decided to just use part of his death scene from later, and it looks fucking terrible,

Was someone breathing down the editor's neck for more Tank Mode footage?

A bit of non Zyu2 footage, outside of the fun scene of Fighting Flea antagonizing Bulk and Skull, is the scene of Fighting Flea "emerging" from the Monstermatic. They just shot the actor in the costume in front of a bunch of smoke to imply the monster had been created. Like I mentioned with Goofish last week, all of the Zyu2 monster costumes were in possession of the U.S. crew. This would make it easier for them to bridge the gaps in Sentai footage if they so chose. Last week they shot no new footage of Goofish, which might be the writers falling into old habits of letting the Sentai stuff speak for itself. I just find it interesting to see them get a little more creative with the monsters and having them interact with U.S. characters.

The other note I wanted to make was that the script for this episode specified a shot of the Fighting Flea being hit by the Power Blaster. Why this got cut I'm not sure, but I'd have been a lot more happy seeing that than the stupid Tank Mode scene earlier. I noted last week how many Zyu2 monsters seem to be beaten with the Rangers ready to use their weapons, but this is one of the very few times we can confirm them using the Blaster on a monster when the footage dictates otherwise.


If you've got any specific Zyu2 questions please leave 'em for me! I live to obsess over this goofy shit. If you're all curious about the use of the footage, check out my buddy Zyu Ranger's blog about Zyu2. Don't go past the Fighting Flea episode yet or you'll spoil the new monsters coming up! Or do read forward and have a good time. I don't care. I'm not your dad.



6 comments:

  1. Has Saban or anyone else said what happened to the unused Zyu2 stuff?

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    1. Glad you asked! The guy who did stunt work for Power Rangers, Jeff Pruitt, posted 9 of the 25 monsters on his youtube channel. Zyu2 nerds like yours truly wait to see if he has everything and can't thank him enough for what he has posted. I'll link the stuff Jeff posted, because it's incredibly fascinating to see what was cut from the footage.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZs9LRBIT9c
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91BoKNRb2uY

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    2. Praying and waiting for more! Patience will reward us. ;)

      Delete
  2. Jason's entire outfit changes in the middle of this episode for some reason.

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  3. How is Ernie having financial problems between selling drinks, collecting membership fees for any classes that are given, and renting out space for / selling tickets to various tournaments?

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    Replies
    1. It's the insurance premiums, man, I'm telling you.

      I mean, that and Ernie is shockingly bad at business.

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